The Federal Government, having made its counterpart payment on the Lagos-Ibadan fast train project, is said to have commenced work on the new standard gauge. When completed, it will be one of the many interventions by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to fix Nigeria. It is, in a nutshell, described as one of the ways the Buhari administration has taken to lay a solid foundation for building an enviable and enduring economy for a New Nigeria.
No doubt, Lagos-Ibadan is not the only traffic line in Nigeria which has pressures due to movement of people for diverse yet vital reasons particularly commerce and economy generally. There are quite others. If successive governments had mounted one block each at their respective times before now regarding the rail ways, the real economic growth would by now be on a good standing. But with Abuja-Kaduna fast train completed and operational and now the Lagos-Ibadan fast train track in the commencement, it is better late than never.
Major problem with government delivering of services to the people, mainly from the post-First Republic of Nigeria, has been in the implementation. Many successive governments had good intentions but the implementation is the problem and, in most cases, problem with implementation stems from the minds of the implementation elements, who are profoundly corrupted by self afflicted greed. Members of the public having no trust government policies is another reason. In Nigeria, policy fails from the point of announcement and that is when people say no, without having to even sit down to consider the why, how and what attached to the policy. In such situation, a bold and independent minded government leader is required in order to remain focused and unwavering, since only ends can justify the means in cases like that. In the end, when the success is achieved, all those that say no at the point of policy announcement will surely gather to celebrate. That is the state of Nigeria currently.
The policy on Lagos-Ibadan fast rain, like of Abuja-Kaduna, will boost commercial activities between the two major Nigerian economic cities of commerce and that will translate, automatically to growth and development in general economy and national standard. It will also reduce the pressures on housing in Lagos, which put the cost of living on high side and make life itself difficult in the former Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory. By the new policy, if the project is successfully completed, people will be able to work in Lagos and live in Ibadan or Abeokuta; people may even come from Akure to link up with the fast train in Akure to transact business or work in Lagos or live in Lagos and trade in Akure, Osogbo, Ogbomoso and so on and it will have no adverse effect in the time set for their resumption at work or time they should return home after work talking of employees. There will be even distribution of wealth among people particularly house owners in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and by extension entire South West states, at least states on the stretch line of the new fast train track as people – in employment or in business – will have choice in abundance to choose where to live among the adjoining states.
However, government should ensure that it works its talks on the new policy. If you have called this project a fast train, it should be seen as truly a fast train. And this is vital because there will be loss of confidence in the government when people, who choose to live in Ibadan while working in Lagos or vice verse based on the policy, begin to see that not only the train is not keeping to time but that hooligans have taken over the space on the coaches just like it is currently the situation with the Iddo-Ijoko passengers train system without the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) having solution to the menace. On two particular coaches of each economy trip on Iddo-Ijoko railway line, there are permanent seats for hoodlums who have all manners of society evils that they perpetrate therein. They have kings, chiefs, body guards among themselves on each trip and they party even. So much that any unsuspecting innocent passenger that enters such coach runs into a near lion’s den; he is either robbed or frustrated till he runs out at any available train stop. It is another thing to add that they even engage in all sorts of live promiscuity on the trip to the embarrassment of innocent ones travelling either to work or home on same coach.
To be seen as truly a change from the ugly past, the new policy on train operation in the country should see an end to evils of that kind on train and make journeying by train truly safer as it should. Hoodlums sitting on rooftop of train coaches should not be beyond tackle for government. Railway Police should be charged to be sincere and patriotic as their presence has stopped nothing of those evils. Overloading should be stopped. And the policy should bring about a system of ensuring that any passenger without a ticket does not have access to any of the coaches and if any is found, he or she should be punished by the law and not be left off at the payment of bribe to either the security man on board or ticket checker.
What has been happening on train is that, train ticketers cause overloading by selling beyond the carriage capacity of each coach per trip. Also train ticket checkers themselves enthuse in seeing that many of the passengers do not have tickets from ticket office so that they now collect money directly from such passengers and, investigations showed that, such monies do not go into NRC’s coffers, expectedly.
The aspect of train breaking down midway due to poor maintenance should also be covered and addressed by the new train policy.
All these done will build confidence in the Nigerian people that truly the government is serious about building an enviable and enduring economy for a New Nigeria and, for a start, eyes will be on Lagos-Ibadan fast rain and Iddo-Ijoko train system to determine if the government is actually capable of fixing the system or not.